Wegener's granulomatosis: Survey of 701 patients in North America. Changes in outcome in the 1990s

Nabih I. Abdou, Glenn J. Kullman, Gary S. Hoffman, Gordon C. Sharp, Ulrich Specks, Thomas McDonald, James Garrity, James A. Goeken, Nancy B. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Objective. To study the medical and socioeconomic impact of Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) in a large cohort (n = 701) of patients who are members of the international WG Support Group (WGSG). Methods. Forty questions designed and validated by one of the authors and reviewed by the medical consultants of the WGSG International were mailed to 1690 patients with WG who are members of the WGSG; 701 (41%) patients returned the questions. Diagnosis of WG was self-reported for purpose of this questionnaire. Study domains included demographic features, education, analysis of categories of medical care providers, organ system involvement, delay in diagnosis, frequency and sites of biopsies to assist in diagnosis, treatment outcome, familial association, disability, and financial effect. We compared some of these features in patients whose diagnosis was made in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Results. In our cohort WG was slightly more prevalent in women (56%), particularly if the disease started at a younger age (9-40 years). Peak age period at disease onset was 45-65 years. Ninety-eight percent of patients were Caucasian. Diagnosis of WG was usually made by a specialist, and the majority of patients received subsequent care by specialists. During the past decade only 7% of patients received a diagnosis of WG upon their first visit to a physician. A period of 3-12 months passed from onset of features of WG to achieving a diagnosis in the majority of patients. Compared to the period 1970-90, in recent years fewer patients had biopsies performed for diagnostic purposes. This observation correlated with increased use of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies. In the 1990s the most common reported therapy was combination of corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide (73%). Patients also reported initial therapy with methotrexate (11%), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (32%), and azathioprine (5%). Patients rarely reported other family members with WG. In none of 12 WG patients who had a twin did the twin have WG. The survey did not identify any specific environmental exposure, occupation, or hobby that was overrepresented among patients. One hundred seventy-nine WG patients reported that their disease had a significant financial impact on their lives. Conclusion. Information from this survey of 701 patients is consistent with physician reported data about organ involvement, initial manifestations and therapy, and outcomes in WG. More WG patients in the 1990s were diagnosed after first physician encounter. This survey did not reveal any predisposing or inducing environmental or familial factors, and showed fewer patients become disabled and more were able to work full time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Epidemiology
  • Outcome
  • Survey
  • Wegener's granulomatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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